Monday Was Big Winery Visit Day

NARBONNE, France –   Beautiful weather greeted our alumni travel group Monday o n a full day of wine tourism through the Languedoc.

Our 13 travelers started the day with a quick trip to Narbonne, an ancient Roman seaport, and beautiful city just off the coast. We spent a few moments to visit the 100-year-old covered market then took time to briefly explore the city, its historic cathedral, and World Heritage site canal which runs through the city center.

Our first winery stop was the beautiful Chateaux LeBouis near the sea. We tasted wine in a beautiful courtyard with a grapevine covered trellis. The chef had prepared wonderful small bites of salmon, chicken legs, crusty French bread and sausages. It was a very fun and relaxed start to a busy day.

We were then off to Gerard Bertrand’s Chateaux L’Hospitalitet. Bertand is one of the biggest names in Languedoc wines. We started by making a steep climb into the vineyards and was rewarded with a windy but stunning view of the Mediterranean Sea. A group photo and plenty of individual shots were taken before we retreated back down to learn more about one of the area’s iconic winemakers.

Back in the winery, staff shared several wines from Bertrand’s seven different Domaines spread across Southern France. Bertrand’s domains combine for an annual production of approximately 3 million cases of wine.

Our final stop was a mixup, of sorts, that brought out the best spirit of Wabash men. Confusion between our liaison, bus driver, and the correct location broke down an cultural barriers remaining. A long story made short, we ended up at the wrong winery – a considerable distance from where we had a winemaker waiting on us.

The staff at Chateaux Carcasses, a stunningly beautiful setting, could  not have been more grancious. The swung into action and organized a tasting, wonderful small bites of gapacho, salmon, and meats. Our bus driver and liaison were back and forth on the phone while our group moved to the Chateaux terrace featuring remarkable views of the surrounding vineyards. But when the situation was explained the guys all said let’s just do the tasting at Carcasses because mistakes do happen.

It was a great roll-with-the-flow moment that could have resulted in hard feelings but ended with another great stop on our continued wine tour.

Tuesday the focus shifts a bit with an extended visit to France’s best preserved, walled city Carcassonne – a World Heritage site. Carcassonne is about 1.5-2 hours west of Montpellier. Our final winery stop occurs just a few miles away at O’Vineyards – a winery owned and run by a transplanted Florida family. The group heads to Paris Wednesday morning. (Howard Hewitt)

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